genetically-modified-organism
Talking With Wild Bottle Nose Dolphins Near Buck Island

While making a documentary, Blue Centennial, with filmmaker Robert Nixon, National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry and world-renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle, my son Finn Kennedy, 18, and his uncle Max impulsively dove from a speeding motorboat into a pod of wild bottle nose dolphins carousing in the bow wave.

Three Mammals: Finn Kennedy while swimming with two wild bottle nose dolphins near Buck Island.Bryce Groark, TrueBlueFilms

The dolphins turned and came back to play with them. They spent more than an hour circling and touching Finn as he free dove near Buck Island Reef National Monument in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Skerry and Earl said that, during their decades of studying, photographing and swimming with marine mammals, neither of them had ever observed the kind of intimate, playful and curious behaviors by dolphins that they witnessed that day as the animals interacted with Finn.

Finn's great uncle John F. Kennedy designated Buck Island as the world's first marine park in 1961. JFK ordered a mural of Buck Island painted on the wall of the White House indoor pool where he exercised each day.

"I felt so lucky for that experience," Finn said. "There were six to eight of them. They would follow me down to about 35 feet and brush up against me repeatedly, then accompany me back to the surface swimming tight circles around me till we all breached together.

"They would stop in the water column 10 feet below the surface, stand on their tails to look me directly in the eye, face-to-face. They would imitate whatever posture I adopted under water. If I lay on my side or my back with my head and feet up they would do the same thing, elevating their tail flukes then dropping their tail or pectoral fins as I lowered my feet or hands.

"They were clearly communicating. They were using sign language but it was full of enthusiasm, humor and affection. It was like they were reaching out to distant cousins from across the millennium."

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By Katie PohlmanAdventure
Nation's Longest Bike Path Will Connect Maine to Florida

Stop and smell the roses or grab some food or chat with locals on the nation's longest greenway. Soon, traveling from Florida to Maine and back won't require a car.

East Coast Greenway Alliance

The East Coast Greenway will stretch from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida, a 2,900-mile distance. The project will provide non-motorized users a unique way to travel up and down the East Coast through 25 cities and 16 states. Walkers, cyclists, runners and other active-transportation users will be able to travel on a continuous, firm and paved greenway with a route specifically designed to give travelers a traffic-free experience, East Coast Greenway Alliance, the non-profit organization behind the project.

"Our route has been chosen to provide the traveler with an ever-changing, interesting and scenic landscape, whether urban, suburban, small town, industrial or rural," the organization states on its website.

The greenway will provide access to public transportation as well as points of interest encountered along its route.

The alliance has been working on this project since the early 1990s, Seeker reported. It wasn't until last year, though, when the project really picked up some steam. Construction of the greenway relies on local development, giving each state or locality ownership over their stretch of the path. Separate pieces will then be connected to complete the greenway.

So far one-third of the greenway has been built. The East Coast Greenway Alliance plans to add complementary and branching routes to the project in the future.

"It's about seeing America at the right speed, where you can take in all of the culture around you," Dennis Markatos-Soriano, alliance executive director, told CityLab. "And you don't have a windshield between yourself and the community."

Watch here:

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By Climate NexusClimate
Major Heat Wave to Scorch U.S.

A combination of high temperatures and humidity will be scorching much of the U.S.—and even President Obama is warning everyone to stay safe.

A "heat dome"—a high pressure system in the mid atmosphere that pushes warmer air to the ground—has enveloped the central U.S. and is expected to reach other parts of the country over the weekend. The maximum heat index—a measure of how it actually feels when factoring in relative humidity—in areas such as St. Louis could reach 113 F while air temperatures in Washington, DC could reach 100 F.

While heat waves are a natural phenomenon, climate change plays a role amplifying the effect and making them more serious, Texas Tech University climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe said on a press call.

For a deeper dive:

News: Washington Post, Twin Cities, Mashable, New York Times, AP, CBS Baltimore, CNBC, Bloomberg

Commentary: New York Times, Andrew Revkin column

Background: Climate Signals

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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By Rodale WellnessHealth
5 Health Benefits of Probiotics

By Stacy T. Sims

To put it simply: Bacteria follow the food you eat. The easiest way to manipulate your gut flora is by enriching your diet with a variety of probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are the actual bacteria that live in your gut. Prebiotics are the substances that the bacteria eat. Food sources are the best way to get both of these, since the diversity of the bacteria in supplements is not as smart as nature; your second choice could be a high-quality, specific-flora supplement.

Fermented foods are not only tasty, they're excellent for gut health.

Once you've established a healthy colony, you have to care for it. Just as you wouldn't plant a garden and not feed or water it, you can't just pour some kefir on top of a bad diet and expect those beneficial microorganisms to grow and flourish. You need to feed them. Fiber from a balanced diet is one way to nourish your gut microbiome.

Every day scientists are discovering more benefits of having teeming, diverse gut colonies. Some probiotic health and performance benefits we know for certain include:

1. Improved Energy

Probiotics and a healthy gut flora facilitate good and healthy digestion, allowing you to optimally absorb all the vitamins and minerals you need to perform and recover.

2. Increased Immunity

Research shows that probiotics is one of the most surprising ways to improve immunity and can help fight bad bacteria and fend off and reduce the duration of upper respiratory infections (such as the common cold) and gastrointestinal woes such as diarrhea. One particularly interesting study found that highly trained distance runners (who are prone to falling ill from overtaxed immune systems) had less than half the number of sick days when they pumped up their diet with probiotics.

3. Heat Tolerance

Though more research is needed, it appears that having a healthy level of probiotics also improves exercise performance in the heat. In one study, runners were tasked to run to exhaustion in a series of tests pre- and postprobiotic supplementation (specifically 45 billion CFU of lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and streptococcus strains). After supplementation, the runners improved their performance by a whopping 14 percent in hot conditions. It is likely that the gut lining is protected from damage, which allows digestion and the cooling system to function optimally.

4. Lower Inflammation

Research shows that probiotics can lower levels of inflammation in the body. This helps prevent numerous diseases and illnesses, including chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as inflammation-based conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and irritable bowel syndrome.

5. Improved Well-Being

Probiotics have been linked to general health benefits of all kinds, including lower cholesterol; lower blood pressure; healthier blood sugar, body weight and body composition; and even better oral health. Healthy probiotic levels may also improve mood and some research finds that they may even help treat depression.

Adapted from Roar.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Rodale Wellness.


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By Stefanie SpearClimate
What You Need to Know About Tim Kaine as Clinton's VP Pick

"I'm thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine," presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted at 8:11 p.m. Friday.

Though the news was not a surprise, as Kaine has long been known as a likely choice, Clinton's pick stirred immediate reaction among the environmental movement. The Virginia senator supports fracking and offshore oil drilling, but was an early opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline.

350 Action Director May Boeve shared her concern of Clinton's vice presidential pick.

"Tim Kaine won't energize the climate base, so it's up to Hillary to start staking out some clearer positions," Boeve said. "Kaine was with us on Keystone XL, but against us on offshore drilling and fracking. This November, climate activists, young people, and progressives will turn up at the polls for candidates who say the magic words, 'keep it in the ground.' If Democrats want to drive turnout, it's time to come out more clearly against drilling, fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure."

On Sunday at 1 p.m., one day before the Democratic National Convention begins in Philadelphia, thousands of people will take part in the March for a Clean Energy Revolution calling for a ban on fracking. The march is organized by Americans Against Fracking and Pennsylvanians Against Fracking and backed by more than 900 organizations across all 50 states.

"Hillary Clinton's vice president and entire administration should be committed 100 percent to combating catastrophic climate change by keeping fossil fuels in the ground, supporting renewable energy and protecting our democracy from corporate influence," Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard said.

"It's clear from the polling that Secretary Clinton needs the progressive wing to vote in force if she's going to win in November, so Tim Kaine must show himself from the start that he'll use his office to be a climate champion," Leonard continued.

"He showed he could do this when he became an early opponent of the Keystone Pipeline, but Kaine's opposition to regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and his support for natural gas exports and pipelines, prove he still has a long way to go. Clinton's positions on fracking may have progressed during her candidacy, but the climate movement will continue to push her and her running mate until they pledge to keep all fossil fuels in the ground."

League of Conservation Voters

Sierra Club's Executive Director Michael Brune feels "Secretary Clinton's selection of Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate completes the strongest environmental ticket we've ever seen." When comparing Clinton's campaign to Donald Trumps, Brune said, "The Democratic ticket is in sharp contrast to the Republican's, which features not one but two climate deniers, a first in American history. The Trump-Pence regime would be the only world leaders to hold that position. Simply put, a Trump-Pence Presidency wouldn't be the only 'TPP' that would destroy our climate."

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By Lorraine ChowClimate
19 Proposed Fracking Pipelines Would Push Us Past Point of No Return, Report Finds

The U.S. will burst through its emission-reduction target under the Paris climate agreement if the 19 natural gas pipelines proposed in the Appalachian Basin come to fruition, according to a new study.

Oil Change International

The report, A Bridge Too Far: How Appalachian Basin Gas Pipeline Expansion Will Undermine U.S. Climate Goals, was published today by the environmental group Oil Change International in partnership with 11 other local, regional and national organizations.

As Reuters noted from the report, these pending projects would pipe natural gas from fracking fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to states from Louisiana to New York and unlock at least 15.2 billion cubic feet per day of production. Combined, these 19 proposed pipelines would enable 116 trillion cubic feet of additional gas production by 2050. Some of the pipeline operators include Spectra Energy Co, Williams Cos Inc and EQT Corp.

The Paris climate agreement signed in June set a goal limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius. The climate target in the U.S. is an emissions cut of 83 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.

However, as the authors of the report warned, these proposed pipelines would be incompatible with these goals. If they are constructed, they would blow past our emissions target 10 years early. And that's just for natural gas.

"Our calculations show that the rise in gas consumption projected by the EIA [Energy Information Administration] would alone lead to emissions that would surpass the current long-term U.S. climate target by 2040," the report said.

Proposed pipelines and potential pipeline routes from the Appalachian basin. Oil Change International

While proponents of natural gas like to argue that it's "clean" since it emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal these proposed pipelines, which have an economic lifespan of more than 40 years, would appropriate all of the U.S. emissions budget for natural gas alone.

"Expanded natural gas production is a bridge to climate disaster," Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, said. "Our report shows that even if we entirely eliminated emissions from coal and oil, the emissions from the natural gas boom alone would still blow our climate budget."

The authors of the report argue in favor of clean energy alternatives such as renewables, battery storage and grid management technology.

"It is increasingly clear that the clean energy sector is poised to transform our energy system," the report stated. "There is nothing standing in the way of building the renewable energy capacity we need to sustain our electricity needs—except maybe the entrenched interests of the natural gas industry."

The report recommends that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates interstate gas transmission pipeline operations, apply a climate test to future infrastructure and policy decisions.

As Reuters noted, Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has advocated for this "climate test," which resembles the criteria President Barack Obama applied when he vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline.

Thanks to Sanders supporters, the climate test has been adopted by the 2016 Democratic party platform, even though presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once deemed natural gas a "bridge" fuel "in the transition to a cleaner energy economy."

"This should be a wake up call to anyone promoting natural gas as a bridge to a clean energy future. Put simply, it's not," Kretzmann said.

The report adds steam to the #KeepItInTheGround movement that challenges the oil and gas industry to stop drilling.

"There's a strong and vital movement of people throughout Appalachia who are standing up to protect their communities and their land from pipelines and the increase in fracking they will bring" Kretzmann said.

The partnering organizations that support the Oil Change International report include Appalachian Voices, Bold Alliance, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Earthworks, Environmental Action, Sierra Club, 350.org, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (Virginia & West Virginia), Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter and Friends of Water (West Virginia).

"Actions show the strength and commitment of people standing up to Big Gas and their reckless pipelines," Bold Alliance President Jane Kleeb said. "These people are fighting for their land, and our climate. Using eminent domain for private gain is something the Cowboy and Indian Alliance stands against. We plan on using actions, prayer and all legal tools available to stop these risky pipelines."

Carolyn Reilly, community organizer with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, agrees. "As a grassroots organizer, and landowner in the path of a proposed natural gas transmission pipeline, I've seen the ugliness of the corporate grab and greed," Reilly said.

"The only place gas will bridge us too is more pollution and further climate disruption," Lena Moffitt, director of Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, said. "This report highlights the magnitude of the threat our climate and communities face from further expansion of gas pipelines and plants, and shows that the only solution to meeting our global climate commitment is to keep gas—like all dirty fuels— in the ground."

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